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OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE UPDATES

Livelihood losses have brought 1275 families on the brink of extreme food crises

Story

By Rahul Thekdi, Chandrika Patnaik

9 September 2020

For families dependent on migrant labour, the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the nation-wide lockdown has led to the loss of livelihoods and drained the little savings they had. They confront multiple challenges of health, hunger and unemployment. Your contribution can help 1275 families facing extreme food stress.

Jabana Roita along with his family in village Kumundia in Odisha’s Gajapati district.

Photograph by Aruna Sahu

Until May this year, Jabana Roita used to work as a welder in Mumbai, earning ₹300 per day. With his income, he took care of the household expenses of his family back in his village of Kumundia in Odisha’s Gajapati district. Whatever he earned in Mumbai, he sent back to his wife who looked after their four children. When the nation-wide lockdown was announced, he was forced to return to Kumundia.

In the village, work opportunities are hard to come by. Jabana’s family now lives on a minimum income earned through daily wage work. In June, the family got work under MGNREGS for 15 days. With no land of his own to cultivate, Jabana has taken a small piece of land on lease to cultivate pulses to meet the family’s food requirement.

As part of the state government’s COVID-19 response, Jabana’s family, like others in his village, have received three months of food ration in advance. Each member is eligible for 5 kgs of rice and 1 kg of dal. Although this ration provided under the public distribution system (PDS) has brought some relief, he struggles to buy other essential food supplies.

Families dependent on migrant income across Odisha have been worst hit by the pandemic. Travel restrictions have made it difficult for them to travel back to their workplaces and back home in their villages, work opportunities are hard to come by. 

Women-headed households and families with members suffering from prolonged health problems have not been able to meet the regular expenses of food and medicines. 

Saba Majhi’s is one such story. Forty-year-old Saba lives with her four children in Bhitarapadar village in Odisha’s Kalahandi district. After her husband’s death, she is the sole income earner in the family. Saba used to earn ₹100 a day by working as a farmhand and at construction sites carrying bricks and cement. With this income, she was able to meet the basic food requirements of her family.

Since the lockdown, she is finding it difficult to make ends meet. There are no work opportunities available in her village. She has been getting a food ration of five kgs of rice per month, under the PDS, but this is not sufficient to meet the food requirements of her family. Saba has now taken a loan to meet the household expenditure and buy the essential food supplies. Saba’s family is one among the many marginalised households across Odisha that are in an urgent need of support in the form of essential food supplies and other necessities.

Gram Vikas has identified 1275 families across Odisha’s Ganjam, Gajapati and Kalahandi districts that are facing extreme levels of food stress. With your support, we can reach out to these families with food supplies and other essentials. A contribution of ₹2640 can support a four-member household for one month. Contribute here – https://www.gramvikas.org/crowdfunding/ 

Forty-year-old Saba Majhi lives with her children in Bhitarapadar village in Odisha’s Kalahandi district.

Photograph by Sanjay Kumar Baral

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Sanjay Kumar Baral, Senior Supervisor and Aruna Sahu, Senior Supervisor with Gram Vikas, supported in data collection. Priya Pillai edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rahul Thekdi is a communication intern and Chandrika Pattnaik is a Junior Manager at Gram Vikas.

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